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User Journal

Journal: Chances of being killed by police in the USA

Journal by Space cowboy

So 104 people were killed by police in the USA during August, 2014. To my eyes, that's an absolutely enormous figure. As a Brit, I compare it to the 1 person killed over 3 years by the UK police. Yes, they're two different countries, yes there's a lot more people in the US, yes they have different cultures, yadda yadda yadda; people are dying here.

Let's do some maths:

  • Population of the USA: 319 million (source: http://tinyurl.com/bpotuf9)
  • Percentage chance for a person to be shot in August is then: (104 x 100%) / 319,000,000 = 0.000033%

That's a scarily huge percentage, given that it's normalised by population. Bear in mind that police in the USA are not ... shy ... at shooting at suspects, and neither are they 100% accurate. Some of the casualties are in fact bystanders.

Now let's consider extrapolating for the period of time that most shootings occur (i.e.: suspect between the ages of 15 and 40), and see how that changes things:

  • Chance to be shot over 25 year period = (104 x 12 x 25 x 100%) / 319,000,000 = 0.0097%
  • Rounding that, since this is an extrapolation, we get 0.01%

Now that's an amazingly large percentage chance of being shot dead by a policeman. Let's do the same thing for the UK:

  • Population of the UK: 65 million (source: http://tinyurl.com/kzsalbe)
  • Percentage chance for a person to be shot over last 3 years is then: (1 x 100%) / 65,000,000 = 0.0000015%
  • Therefore percentage chance for a person to be shot in August 2014 is 0.0000015 / 12 / 3 = 0.0000000427%
  • Therefore percentage chance to be shot over 25 year period is 0.0000000427 x 12 x 25 = 0.0000128%

Compare 0.01% and 0.00001% and remember these are normalised by population. Yeah.

User Journal

Journal: Privacy and Secrecy 9

Journal by ShieldW0lf

These two concepts are presented as being synonymous in popular discussion. A "You can't have one without the other." kind of thing.

This concerns me greatly.

I could write at great length about the threat secrecy poses to human culture, and have before, but that's not what I'm going to do right now.

I've had conversations in the past where I claimed people never had privacy in the first place, that between the government and the schools and the banks and credit card companies and whatnot, their movements and activities have been monitored since the day they were born.

But this was never precisely right. Because privacy doesn't require secrecy. That is what I want to talk about.

First, a couple of illustrations:

When you go to the bathroom, it's not a secret what you're going in there for. We know you're going in there to release waste. You know that we know. But we would generally agree that this gives you privacy.

When you live with roommates, and you take your special someone to your room and hang a tie on the door, we know what you're in there for. You know that we know. But you still feel a sense of privacy, and you still do what you went in there to do.

So. What makes these situations private, when they're not even vaguely secret?

The lack of a requirement to interact.

It's a matter of social decorum. Good manners.

At the end of the day, I don't really care that you know I took a dump. What I care about is that I don't have to carry on a conversation about it. I don't even want to have the "conversation of the eyes". I want to forget, for a moment, that you exist.

I don't think I'm exceptional in this regard.

So, clearly, you can have privacy without secrecy.

Let's examine something a little more pervasive.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years, you're probably familiar with the "Reality TV" concept.

These people are living in a fishbowl. They have no secrets, and they know it.

But you can clearly see that, despite this, they will seek out a space where they are physically alone so they can have some privacy. And you can clearly see them relax, because their need for privacy has been fulfilled.

Why? There are likely more people observing them that ever before... how can they possibly feel like they have privacy?

The answer is, they don't need to react to you. They don't need to respond to things you say. That automatic reflex we have to decipher what your eyes are saying never kicks in. That is what they really crave.

So. One more illustration. Not even anecdotal. Could not tell you when or where I heard this, but here goes:

The story is, there is an Asian culture where everyone is packed in so tightly, and their building construction affords them no secrecy because their walls are so thin that a man walking past your house can see and hear right through your rice paper walls.

Nevertheless, these people successfully find the privacy they need. Because they do not react to things that are none of their business. They know their place.

There is a lesson here for us.

We are grappling with a real problem in our civilization. We have forged tools with the power to extend our senses further than our great grandparents could have ever dreamed. But we have not yet demonstrated the maturity to handle it.

The result of this is that there is a small class of people who have access to vast amounts of information about everyone, and a large class of people who have very little access and what access they have has been carefully chosen to control their opinions.

The small class of people and the large class of people are both fighting to preserve this state of affairs. The large class are defending the "right to secrecy" because they feel they are fighting to protect their privacy from their ill mannered fellows. The small class are defending the right to secrecy because they have an unfair advantage over their fellows and they wish to preserve that state of affairs.

Simultaneously, you have people who are fighting for "transparency", because they recognize the unfair advantage that is held by a group that seeks to control them, and they wish that unfair advantage erased.

In this way, we are turned against ourselves by those who would rule us.

I've argued this point exhaustively in online forums under my standard pseudonym, and have been jeered at, and invited to publish my real name, address and banking information.

This is what we're up against. I've got skeletons in my closet, same as everyone. I'm flawed, but I'm confident I'm no more flawed than any of you. If the veils of secrecy came crashing down for one and all, I'm confident that it would be impossible for anyone to attack my character and reputation without being seen for a gross hypocrite.

But, to go first is to allow hypocrites to destroy you, and to fail in your attempt to address the problem.

It's a difficult problem. I'm not sure how to get from where we are to where I believe we need to be. I see it as a real possibility that we will destroy our own potential to grow beyond the limitations of our fragile flesh rather than develop the maturity to cope with this situation.

However, I think that creating a sense of the distinction between privacy and secrecy is an essential step towards having a dialog that will lead us there.

Thank you for reading.

User Journal

Journal: A new democratic model 4

Journal by ShieldW0lf

This is a work in progress, which I will continue to expand upon. I feel it is important to share it in it's unfinished, because I am frequently misunderstood when I attempt to communicate my ideas in conversation, and am attacked by people based on a false understanding of what I propose. This is intended to be a tool which I deliver as a gift to mankind, to use or ignore as they see fit, and not something I impose upon anyone.

The Principles:

Any person who wishes to participate in the running of society has the right to do so. They operate in the fashion that suits them best in each sector, and they do as they will with their spare time. They have the right to vote in the operation of the society they participate in and have their vote counted.

Some people cannot choose to actively participate in society. Children who are too immature to be safe, invalids who are unable because they are in too much pain, those too elderly to function properly.

People need to be involved to have the right to make decisions. If they are not involved, their vote should not count. To allow their vote to count is to those who are ignorant to rule. When one man knows, and another does not, the second should bow his head, and the first should take responsibility.

However, people who are not involved should still have the right to cast votes, propose changes to the system and express themselves just as any other. Wisdom can come from those who are young, elderly and infirm, and it is important that we respect that fact. We can all remember bearing witness to hidebound foolishness amongst our elders at some point in our youth, and those of us who are not yet elderly and infirm can rest assured that we most likely will be.

Those who are not involved and cast votes should not have their vote counted towards a decision, however, those who are involved are free to assign their vote to them, and those votes will count. Thus, a wise elder or visionary invalid who cannot participate through deeds may still be the voice of those who do participate through deeds, for as long as they believe his leadership is wise.

Children should be treated as a special case.

It is important that children continue to be born and that the system should treat them as future citizens of vital importance to us all and not the same as mature or invalid dependents who are cared for out of compassion.

Therefore, parents should be considered to have an additional vote that represents their child, for so long as they continue to nurture to them.

Children should still continue to be able to cast a vote for themselves when they are mature enough to understand what that means, participate in the process and develop their voice, and if mature adults choose to appoint a child as their representative, those votes should be assigned according to the choices of the child and not automatically be passed along to the childs parent.

All data and information should be available to everyone in principle, and it shall be an ongoing goal of society to see that all measures available to make it accessible in practice are implemented. Transparency of information shall never be compromised in support of other concerns, because it is essential to the sane and wise operation of a democratic society.

Where secrecy exists, the act of participating in democracy is itself insane and unwise. It is through exploitation of this truth that those with arcane knowledge make themselves parasites of the ignorant, leading to weakness and suffering of those kept ignorant, the inevitable execution of the parasitic ruler, and often the destruction of the entire human culture.

Preventing this situation from arising is the responsibility of all humanity.

The Tools:

The Watchers - A sensor network, intended to gather data and allow all people to be aware of the environment to the maximum practical degree

The Testaments - Personal mesh networked voting devices with record keeping and personal sensors, intended to allow a person to demonstrate their votes to their peers, review the ongoing operations of the culture and propose changes to the way things are run.

The Witnesses - Stationary mesh networked recording devices, intended to decentralize vote archives and create enough forensic evidence to make wide scale vote tampering impossible

The Web - Wired network, intended to act in a supporting role to the Watchers, Testaments and Witnesses where it is advantageous to use Artifacts of Mankind to analyze data and discover patterns.

The Transition:

This presupposes that the infrastructure for the new model for representative democracy has been designed and distributed and the vast majority agree in principle with its use.

I started writing this proposal with the idea of applying it strictly to legal systems, but realized that it really should govern all common systems, which would include all large scale infrastructure and commonly used systems for governing human affairs. This is a statement with far reaching implication and is going to have to be expanded upon significantly for it to make sense.

1) Cataloging:

We should create a catalogue of laws and systems, together with the justification for those laws and systems, an articulation of the sacrifice they represent, and an articulation of any conditions which would justify their being revoked.

The population should have x number of days to create a catalogue of the laws and systems which exist, together with the justification for those laws and systems continued existance.

2) Judgement:

The population should vote to determine if the closing period for contributions to the catalogue should be extended.

Any laws and systems which are not indexed after the closing period will be judged to be unsupported by anyone and therefore eliminated (there being no reason why they cannot be re-introduced at the end of the migration process)

The laws and systems should be indexed in terms of those which are justified by core values and those which are justified because of how they affect other laws and systems, and a map created that articulates these justifications.

The laws and systems sould then be considered in terms of the relevance of their stated purpose, how well they fulfil their stated purpose, and a consideration of how and if the current conditions are right for them to exist. The population should vote to keep them or remove them on this basis.

At the conclusion of this process, there should be no laws and systems which do not have justification, common support, and some thought put to the time when they might cease to be sane and wise.

3) Ongoing Operation

Any person may:

    a) Propose a new law or system with novel justification

    b) Propose that a new contraindication be ratified for an existing system
                  When the conditions of our culture are x, this rule will cease to be wise.

    c) Propose that a new sacrifice be ratified for an existing system
                  This rule causes hardship in x way, and that hardship should be acknowledged.

    d) Propose that the conditions for revoking an existing system have been met
                  This contraindication was set down long ago when this rule was made, and I propose that it now applies

    e) Propose a new law or system to supersede an existing system by meeting it's justification with:

                - less sacrifice (demonstratable justification)
                          We can meet need x with this different system, and hardship x which the previous system demanded
                          would cease to be necessary
                - less contraindications (deductive justification)
                          Existing system x will become a poor and unwise tool when condition x occurs, and this new system will meet
                          the need without the risk of becoming defunct under condition x.
                - both

A system will have to be agreed upon to determine at what point a proposal must be put to a vote. Possibilities might be that a certain critical number of people must "second" the proposal, or perhaps a critical percentage of the population.

User Journal

Journal: Oh, look! An Atari Slashdot Logo With Scrolling Rainbows!

Journal by PotatoHead

Well, not too much to say right now, other than I like the changing logo. It's a Google wannabe kind of thing, but in a good way. Nicely done.

If you own and value old computers, particularly if you use them, feel free to chatter below. I have an Apple //e, Atari 800XL, and Color Computer 3, up running and useful. (well sort of useful)

User Journal

Journal: The Soap Bubble 3

Journal by ShieldW0lf

I'm going to use the term God. If you find yourself dragging your religious preconceptions into this as a consequence of this label, feel free to substitute the word "Reality" where you see the word "God". I do this because, to my mind, they are describing the same thing using different technical languages that come from different knowledge systems, and I hope to provoke others to look at them the same way.

The universe can be understood in terms of the complexity of the arrangement of God's substance.

The singularity is the ultimate victory of Gravity and Entropy
The big bang is the ultimate failure of Gravity and Entropy

The creation of this universe is the eruption of the substance of God into an increasingly complex pattern. The limits of this complexity are imposed by, gravity, entropy and the amount of God. These limits will cause the complexity of the pattern to peak, and the complexity will degenerate back into simplicity, which will be pulled back into a singular state.

These perspectives as I've articulated them are written from the observing position of a living creature within the multiverse and bound by time.

From the position of an imagined observer outside of God, and thus outside of time, this would look very different.

To model this in your mind, it may be helpful to imagine the universe as a soap bubble being blown from a wand. The force of the big bang is like the air being blown at the soap film.

As this force causes the soap film to erupt out of a two dimensional plane into a three dimensional sphere, there are other forces at work that keep the soap film from simply disintegrating.

By acting in opposition to this "creative wind", these forces maintain the coherency of the soap film, allowing it to be a bubble with a beautiful complex pattern rather than simply dust.

However, from a perspective inside the soap film, these forces would look like the forces of entropy and gravity look to us. They drag us back towards the simplicity of death, just as the surface tension in the soap film drags the film back towards the state of being a plane.

This model makes an interesting segue into contemplation of the contrast between the infinite model of the universe and the finite model of the universe.

I believe the evidence does not support the perspective that we live in an infinitely expanding universe, because such a model would look like the soap film being blown into dust by the creative wind rather than assembling itself into the complex patterns that we see around us.

Some other interesting things to consider when looking at this model from the perspective of the outside observer watching the soap bubble of our universe being blown:

Does the ending of the creative wind cause the soap bubble to fall back into a simple plane, and have all it's complexity vanish as though it never was?

Does the creative wind cause the soap bubble to resolve into a sphere and blow off the wand?

Does the soap bubble resolve into a sphere but remain stuck to the wand?

If the observer sees the soap bubble fall back into a simple plane, that would imply that time resides outside the universe. This isn't really consistent with what we've observed about relativity.

If the creative wind causes the soap bubble to resolve into a sphere and blow off the wand, that would imply that the universe either is in the process of being created by some sort of God and cast away, or it already has been. This also implies that time resides outside the universe.

The model in which the soap bubble resolves into a sphere but remains stuck on the wand is the model that is consistent with relativity. It is the model in which the definition of time is permitted to remain relative to this universe.

In this model, the imaginary observer outside of the universe does not see any dynamic action in time because, residing outside the universe, there is no capacity to relate, and thus, they see the soap bubble in its entirety, at all of its "times".

Following this line of reasoning, the universe in its complex state and the universe in its simple state is something that can only be expressed in terms of time,

How can I verify this?

Not the right question

How might I make this a more useful predictive tool to govern behavior than others who have espoused similar views before me and failed to do so?

I might use the model to imply useful and previously unrecognized boundaries between what is local and what is global in scope in terms of the "laws of nature" and thus find new "patterns of reality" by implication or learn how to break "laws of nature" that were previously considered inviolate by moving beyond the scope of their pattern.

I might use the model to help people recognize the difference between knowledge systems derived from experimentation and knowledge systems derived from deduction, allowing people to abandon the false assurance of faulty tools and work towards reconciling the conflict between science and religion.

I wonder if Paul Davies would consider this to be #3 or #5?

I draw comfort from the fact that I am not really a 3 dimensional object transforming and translating. I am actually a 4 dimensional object experiencing becoming. I have a boundary on the top of my head, and on the soles of my feet. I have a boundary at the surface of my chest, and at the surface of my back. I have a boundary on my left side, and on my right. And, finally, I have a boundary at my birth and at my death. I will never cease, but will exist forever within these 4 axis. At the time of my death, I will finally consciously know myself in my entirety. I consider that something to look forward to.

User Journal

Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

User Journal

Journal: First troll defending Linux Desktop?

Journal by PotatoHead

Well shit. Never did I believe here on Slashdot, I would get a troll for a frank expression on Linux. Wonders abound it seems.

I've been in and around here for a very, very long time. The troll is actually funny. I won a bet on that one, BTW. Now I can go collect! Thanks for that.

I've thought about the state of open software off and on for many, many years. I think we've a clear case of a self-fulfilling reality happening with Linux Desktops. The current state of the computing industry mostly ignores the movers and shakers in favor of ordinary users doing what users do. Some of that happens on a Linux desktop, a lot of it doesn't, but does that mean the desktop is dead?

No! If you look out in the embedded space, just as one example, there is a TON of Linux. Most of those users run --wait for it! The Linux desktop! That kind of thing happens on a Linux system, just a safety tip from your buddy potatohead.

Now, maybe saying the word "fuck" got me the troll rating. Really? Come on folks! This isn't disneyland --or is it? You all tell me.

Finally, the core thing to remember about the growing body of open source software is all about the use value. For those who make the investment to make use of the open software tools, their use value and their skills are not mapped to closed things, and that value goes off the charts.

That's not gonna change for a percentage share metric published on some industry rag, filled with a lot of people, who don't actually understand the power of multi-user computing, nor the multi-user X window system for the powerful gift it is.

Those of us who do understand those things are not going anywhere! Why? Because we simply don't have to, and that's a fact often ignored when the failed comparison between Linux and proprietary software desktop solutions is invoked.

Think that one through kids. Think it through really hard, and maybe you may come to see how the open software dynamics work, and through that, why a pronouncement that the Linux Desktop is dead ends being as silly as I make it out to be. We users of that desktop will be perfectly happy to let you know when it's dead, k?

User Journal

Journal: a return which is long overdue (plus achievements!) 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I've lurked at /. without posting for ages, mostly because I just don't have the time to interact like I used to.

But I've been clicking through the old RSS feed more and more lately, and when I saw the PAX Plague thread today, I came over to comment, since I'm kind of affected by the whole damn thing. I thought I'd take a look around since I haven't been here in awhile, and I saw that there are freaking ACHIEVEMENTS associated with our accounts. It's silly, and I'm sure it's been here forever, but I thought it was awesome and I was delighted when I read it.

I didn't realize how much I missed Slashdot until I spent some time here today, and I bet that anyone who joined in the last 2 years doesn't even give a shit about my stupid comments or anything, but it felt good to come back here, and feel safely among my people again.

Government

Journal: Discuss: Cybersecurity Sysadmin Guild

Journal by PotatoHead

The NYTimes story linked below sparked some thought I wanted hear more from /. about. This is not your typical advocacy post, but for the simple request that we just talk about this stuff. Can that still happen on /. I'm hoping so. Take the info below, read it, then think about it, then contribute what you think will have the most value. The idea is for us to just do a bit of talking for the sake of just learning and thinking for a change.

These kinds of topics are of great interest to me, largely because the ethics and law surrounding them are new and often being formed right now, in our time. That's kind of cool really. It's interesting to consider what we sort out now will define things for generations to come.

In short, we live in interesting times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/13/us/politics/13cyber.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

My intent with this is to just have some good discussion. I've got my flame suit on, and really just am interested on where this takes people. Consider it food for some interesting talk, not so much an advocacy piece. I am wanting to hear some thoughts on this subject matter, whatever they may be. Let's go!

The problem with cyber-defense and our traditional notions of privacy, search, seizure, etc... comes from the virtual nature of Internet communications, geographical portability, and relative inability for many to quantify how the net works in terms we agree on. Simple discussions like "theft" of movies require people understand very subtle things, like infringement and why it's not simple theft. Please, this thread is not about that topic. I contributed it to highlight one of many things we remain very confused as a nation on, not to make a position statement on what happens on a download ok?

Enter the Systems Administrator.

These people did it first. We have a net to wage war in, because they did the work to build something that would actually behave as a virtual space. And there are some fascinating parallels with our history I want to share, then make a statement at the end of this I didn't think I would make. Ideally, that's where some discussion will happen.

Our founders were these very progressive and visionary people. When they formed this nation there were only a few democracies in operation at the time. They were seen as everything from radical to just. We live in that nation today because they structured things to behave as a space where people were free to be people.

The systems administrators who built the net were like them in many ways! They were visionary, progressive and very focused on structure and freedom, knowing that good things would happen without having to actually state them.

As time passes, current generations lose some of the connection to those early builders. Today, both our founders and systems admins are not seen in the same way they were when alive and building.

Our early legislators were mentored in from the builders. Many implied things were honored because they were just, law had not yet been written and ethics controlled how a lot of things got done. Admins are the same way.

I, for example, was mentored my people who I would characterize as first and second generation admins. The net was an open place a lot like early America was. Few people had locks, few people then had cyber security.

The third generation is operating now, with the fourth upon us soon.

When I got introduced to being an admin, ethics were a part of the discussion. Then came the gentlemen's agreements and such. The net was still being formed. Now it's built and being improved, renovated, etc...

Early on, it was not possible to be an admin, without having gone through the passing of the torch. Then it became possible to just become an admin through the course of simple work, and the ratio of those being mentored by those that formed the roots of the thing to those who just end up doing it leans toward no mentoring with each passing day.

Problems escalated as more and more ordinary people jumped into the space and started doing their thing.

The net closed, security was required and the rest brings us to today.

Here's an example of the kinds of things I experienced when the keys to the kingdom were handed to me:

Ethics on privacy. It was obvious that I could examine any portion of our company net. So then, what's the right behavior? Do I read the e-mails, poke at the financials, log browser traffic? The answer is complicated and much of it depends on what the information is for, whether or not a person can be trusted to do the right thing with it, and so on.

I got the title of admin, because the prior one basically told the users I was ready, could be trusted, and had the skill needed to carry them forward. This still happens, and it happens a lot and that is good. When it doesn't happen, there are issues. Or worse, the admin is forced to disregard their ethics to hold a job, and users are left with the results.

My point is this: I don't think it's possible to operate a safe net, without some people getting to know stuff. Our open net requires us to have administrators and that's just how it is. Somebody somewhere has the keys to whatever fiefdom you care to inhabit, and you get to travel in cyberspace simply at their pleasure. They allow that traffic to exist, and they allow it because it is better with that freedom than without.

Witness nations like China and Australia and others who regulate that travel sharply, and with that comes an idea of just how much implied trust we operate on. It's a lot people. An awful lot.

As an admin, I operated (and still do operate) mail servers. Marriages can be broken with the info sitting on that server. Prison terms can be there too. There is a lot of power in that machine, and the admin could use it for personal gain quite easily. There's the implied trust bit right there.

My users know I don't read e-mail. My standard line is that it would simply piss me off, and who wants to do that? The reality is that I know that server needs to be treated in a special way so that the people who inhabit it (and that's an odd way to put it, but it makes sense to me) can just be who they are and do what they do, much like they do getting into a car and driving down the road.

Over the years, I've been asked to cross boundaries. Copy software, crack software, open up the server and take a peek "for the company", and any number of other things. I've said "no" a lot, and have been fortunate enough to be in positions where that "no", and the "why" behind it was heard and respected. I've been forced a time or two and considered an attorney, because the law actually forbid what was being requested. There are many who need their job and or don't care and will just do it. Think about that dynamic too.

So then, Obama wants to essentially create the systems admin for the nation.

IMHO, this is good.

I see everybody worried about trust. The nation is going through the same thing little pools of people went through when the net was forming. A discussion happens:

[admin]

We have networked the computers!

[users]

YEAH!!

But, what about... and it comes! Can others see my stuff, can I see their stuff, will people know things?

[admin --if they are a good one]

Admin lays down the law, ethics and commits to earn the trust of people.

So then, this discussion results in everybody operating under some common assumptions and the admin just compartmentalizes a lot of things and basically sits there and makes it all go in a way that people can live with.

We, as a nation are there now.

We as a community here on /. have been there for a while, with our admins here structuring things so that we can do what we feel compelled to do with few to no inhibitions and a lot of trust. Think about that in the context of this national development about to happen. Interesting no?

I think so.

My proposal is essentially a guild. Cybersecurity is going to require admins and our liberties are going to fall under their privy, or we operate in a less than secure environment and take the risk. That is the national question, but for the guild part. That's mine, at the moment.

If we go the guild route, then we return to how the net was formed and the trust and ethics issues that formed the place and that means people vetting people for the sake of other people.

Will the President actually have his admin tell him "no" and "why", or will that admin just take a peek?

I think about the wiretapping that happened. What if that guild were in place, and they said NO? Or, perhaps they said "maybe", and it went to the courts?

If we have a national systemsadmin, czar, etc... what do you think that looks like, and what power should it have?

Flame, rant, rave, you name it! Let's just talk about this and see where it leads!

User Journal

Journal: Disable ADs?

Journal by PotatoHead

Hello everyone!

Logged into /. this morning and saw this nice note:

As our way of saying thank you for your positive contributions to Slashdot, you are eligible to disable advertising. Or something like that.

I checked the box to satisfy simple curious interest and got:

Thanks again for helping make Slashdot great!

Thanks guys!

I think I'll probably turn the ADS back on soon though. They don't bother me, and every little bit of revenue counts for most people these days. I do however appreciate being noticed. Some part of me is hoping it's never having anything but EXCELLENT KARMA. Maybe it's a low UID, maybe some other ratio of good comments to bad, or something.

Whatever it is, thanks again!

I'm thinking back on the early years, when Rob was going to school, running /. on old Alpha servers and the smaller community we had then. Man, there are so many people now! Despite this, I scroll through the comments and recognize people. Some are old names, some new, all made an impression on me in some small way, which is why I remember them.

We've come so far. There are times when I log in and feel OLD. Usually, that's on the politics or Internet focused discussions. There is a thing I wanted to journal here about that. I will actually, but first I'll tee it up and also state that I've posted it somewhere else too. Nobody cared! That worries me actually.

There are first generation netizens, and they were the builders. Second Generation netizens would remember the ETERNAL DECEMBER, among other things. Some thirds might do so as well.

I'm a late second, Gen X netizen. Kids jumping on today are probably fourth generation and so many of them have NO clue. Well, that's not right. Many of them do, but the culture of being mentored onto the net has gone. It left with the masses that followed the time when I logged on for the first time.

That was 91. HOLY SHIT! Time passes...

So, to tee up the contribution I have in mind: Obama wants to make a CyberSecurity Czar. Fine. I actually think that's probably a good idea. But, it triggered some musings that I thought I would share for discussion. I'll try the make a journal entry a story deal, put on my flame suit, and see what people think!

User Journal

Journal: iPhone not so expensive after all

Journal by Space cowboy

So, with some trepidation given the media focus surrounding the new 3GS and pointing out how expensive it is over time, I decided to "donate" my iphone 2G to my fiancée and go for a 3GS. Since it's another 2 year contract, I figured I'd go for the top-of-the-range and wait it out again. To my (pleasant) surprise, my needs are relatively cheap...

Initial costs are a bit steep at $415 including tax, shipping. But the monthly charges are $56 (including the data-plan) for my particular needs. I don't use the phone much for talking (450 minutes a month is overkill for me) and I rarely text people (an average of 25/month is (again) overkill, and this corresponds with the '200' dollar amount I'd otherwise have to pay for in bulk). What I *do* use on the phone is the data service. A *lot*. And that's built in as unlimited - it breaks down as $32 for the Nation 450 w/rollover, and $24 for the unlimited data plan.

That comes to a total of $1759 over two years. ($415 + 24 * $56), and I can comfortably afford that. That's also a *lot* less expensive than the $3000+ (over 2 years) that people have been bandying around. It's worth looking at the options, and seeing what suits you before coming to a decision...

Simon

User Journal

Journal: Obama '08 1

Journal by PotatoHead

I'm there people. Been watching this horrible mess of a primary and Obama has come through largely keeping the high ground.

So, who is your pick?

User Journal

Journal: The nature of knowledge and truth 1

Journal by ShieldW0lf

There is no truth, and there is no knowledge.

All the things we know are things which we have decided, and we have decided them from a position of gross ignorance.

There was a time when we knew of the great and terrible fire god in the sky.

It was wise that we knew of him thus. To know of him thus was to understand that our lives sprung from him, that without his presence we would die. It was to understand his terrible power and be wary of it, lest he burn you to death. It was to understand that there was a pattern to his actions, and that we could build patterns among ourselves that were supported by the resolute and predictable nature of his actions. We could create time and history where once there was only timeless story and myth and the endless now.

This was not the truth. It was an arbitrary decision that we believe this, and that decision withstood the test of time because it was useful to view things in this fashion. It was a viewpoint that let you do things that you couldn't do before. Those savages who didn't believe were defeated by the weaknesses of their perspective.

There was a time when we knew that the earth was a round globe that the sun revolved around.

It was wise that we knew the sun thus. We spent so long worrying about offending that thing, ascribing motives to it that didn't exist, being blinded to the inconsistencies of our view.

Now we could predict its motion around the earth as we travelled its survace. We could do all sorts of useful things with this knowledge that we couldn't do before. Those who didn't believe as we did were defeated by the weaknesses of their perspective. Those who believed as we believed thrived and multiplied. This was knowledge.

Except that it was an arbitrary truth. It wasn't true. But it was useful. So it was good. This was knowledge.

Now we know that the earth revolves around the sun, and so do the rest of the planets. This is a useful perspective. It has empowered us.

The truth is, we see glimpses of the nature of the universe. We make a bunch of things up, and the more useful those made up things prove to be in helping us continue to exist, the more you see them among us as knowledge and truth.

Now, we have scientists contemplating the microscale of the universe, the macroscale of the universe.

Can you consider the effects your actions when you get up in the morning on the microscale? Or how what's happening on the microscale at the moment should influence what it's wise to do? What it's good or evil to do?

Could you consider how what's happening on the macroscale relates to the morality of your existance and your actions?

You can't.

You can't consider these things.

You're floating along with a whole bunch of made up rules that are there because they're empowering. Inevitably, the falseness of them will come along to bite you on the ass as you struggle to make some sense of the universe with these crude tools that are our truths and perspectives and knowledge.

At the end of the day, you must not get too caught up in defending the truths of things.

You must look around you.

Look at what truths you see bandied about, and try to understand what the purpose of those truths is.

Understand that none of this is really the truth, but every bit of it has some utility that is the reason for its existance.

Try to understand what that utility is.

This will help you deal with the ugliness in the world.

Every ugly evil thing you see has a reason why it is there, that is why its evil ugliness is tolerated.

It serves a moral purpose. It allows us to be.

Reconcile with it. Understand that it has an inherent goodness that is larger than the ugliness of what you can see.

Then look for a new truth that can serve the moral purpose of the ugly one you have reconciled yourself with.

It is in this way that you will find your truth.

It will be a truth that you have chosen. It will not be an inherently true truth, but it will be a useful truth.

It is up to you what you do with the truth you have chosen.

But for it to be a good and moral truth, it must ultimately serve the purpose of continuing to allow us to be.

If it does not serve that purpose, it will ultimately destroy those who choose it as the truth, and thus destroy itself.

What are your truths doing?

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

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